SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Big Y Foods here has completed the expansion of its Chicopee, Mass., distribution center — and is teaming with a new wholesaler to help fill it.
Storage capacity at Big Y's Chicopee warehouse doubled through the addition of 100,000 square feet of warehouse racking, the retailer said last week. The expansion encompasses 450 bays and 4,692 pallet positions for storage of more than 1,500 Big Y-branded items, some national brands and seasonal products.
Big Y, which operates 57 grocery stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut, said it acquired this facility in 2003 to expand its distribution services. The chain also operates a warehouse at its Springfield headquarters.
The warehouse expansion follows Big Y's relationship with a new primary wholesaler: Bozzuto's Inc., Cheshire, Conn. Big Y had been supplied by C&S Wholesale Grocers, Keene, N.H., for more than a decade.
Big Y and Bozzuto's officials were not available last week to discuss the supplier change, but sources characterized the switch as a win for both parties. Bozzuto's adds a chain retailer with estimated annual sales of $1.3 billion, making Big Y its largest customer and one that could double the wholesaler's volume; Big Y, in turn, teams up with a nearby wholesaler with whom it can grow.
Burt P. Flickinger III, managing partner of Strategic Resource Group, New York, said Bozzuto's had been “big-game hunting” in recent years, reaching out as far as western New York state and Wilmington, Del., to service former Fleming customers. Big Y provides volume that Bozzuto's can service more efficiently from its Connecticut headquarters.
Bozzuto's also services King Kullen, the Bethpage, N.Y.-based regional chain.
“For Bozzuto's, it's likely going to lead to more wins of big chain customers in the future,” Flickinger said. “I know that King Kullen is a very satisfied customer.”
Big Y in choosing Bozzuto's can benefit from becoming the top priority of its wholesale partner, Flickinger said. C&S, having added considerable volume to its Northeast operations with the addition of A&P, “serves many masters,” Flickinger said. “Big Y feels it's better to be No. 1,” he said.
C&S last week confirmed it was laying off about 250 workers related to the loss of Big Y's business. According to a report in the Brattleboro, Vt., Reformer newspaper, most of the job losses at C&S have come from its North Hatfield, Mass., warehouse, with some jobs also lost in Brattleboro.